Every year, the Homenetmen Navasartian Athletic Games rally thousands of Armenians through the organization’s athletic competitions Victory Ball, four-day festival, magnificent closing ceremony and especially the generosity of its Honorary President.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Navasartian Games and Homenetmen has been privileged that long-time community activists and benefactors Mr. & Mrs. Varant and Hoori Melkonian agreed to become the honorary presidents.
Their charitable contributions, humanitarian service, and patriotism is widely known in the community. Time and again, the couple has shared their life’s successes with organizations that serve Armenian and American causes, as well as with promising individuals, who demonstrate the potential to advance the aspirations of the Armenian people, work hard to strengthen our homeland, and improve their local communities.
Hoori Jivalagian was born in Baghdad, Iraq to Ohannes and Hripsime Jivalagian. She received her elementary education at the local Armenian school and her secondary education at the Armenian Catholic Sisters Academy. Throughout her school years, she participated in the activities of a literary group at the Armenian youth center in Baghdad.
In 1980, she relocated to the United States in order to pursue her academic studies and attended California State University Long Beach, where she majored in Chemical Engineering. After graduation, she worked as an environmental engineer for ten years. In an effort to engage with the Armenian community, every year, she attended Homenetmen’s Navasartian events and Victory Balls.
With a desire to be of assistance to others, she joined the ARS Long Beach “Zovinar” Chapter and, at the same time, participated in the newly-formed ARS Javakhk Fund Committee. Later, she also brought her participation to the Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry. In her spare time, she has been helpful to numerous Armenian and local organizations and schools. In the past three years, she has also been a member of the Parent Support Committee at the Rose & Alex Pilibos Armenian School.
“Homenetmen is a very important organization for Armenians and effectively implements its ‘Healthy Mind in a Healthy Body’ slogan. In the United States, Homenetmen has allowed me the opportunity to have closer ties with other Armenians. It is my dream that Homenetmen will one day have an immense athletic arena where our Armenian youth can collectively gather in a clean and healthy environment,” stressed Hoori Melkonian.
Varant Melkonian was born in Baghdad, Iraq to Melkon and Angel Melkonian. At a young age, he joined the local Homenetmen chapter where he spent much of his free time. He received his elementary education at a Catholic school and his secondary education at the local state school. In 12th grade, he took the baccalaureate exam, ranking at the top of his school and second in all of Iraq. He attended the University of Technology of Baghdad for one and a half years studying in the Mechanical Engineering division, then relocated to the United States in 1977. In 1978, along with his brother, Vahe, he opened a printing company. He acquired most of the skills in this business from his father, who had been the owner of a large scale printing company in Iraq.
In 1979, Varant Melkonian joined the Homenetmen Los Angeles Chapter and participated in its social committee. Since that time, he has supported not only the local chapter, but also established a permanent presence in Homenetmen in the community and brought firm backing to various regional-level activities.
Alongside the printing business, in 1980, he initiated work in Direct Mail Advertising. With his skills and resourcefulness, Melkonian has earned many successes throughout his career. In 1990, Melkonian dissolved his Direct Mail Advertising business and decided to start an establishment focusing on residences, founding Closet World. The business found great success and has locations in both California and Las Vegas, Nevada.
Since 2000, he acquired many companies including Closets by Design. A national brand with 16 locations throughout the USA, Closets by Design has grown its operation to 46 markets with manufacturing facilities throughout the USA and in Canada.
Currently, Melkonian, is the Chairman and CEO of Home Organizers, Inc., which owns and operates nine different companies in four industries, includes its wholly-owned subsidiaries Closet World, Closets by Design, Closet Dimensions, Garage Envy, Blinds World and Organize.com.
Varant and Hoori Melkonian married in 1989 and started a family soon after. They have three children: Arman, Arlene, and Aren. All three children attended Armenian schools and joined both Homenetmen and the Armenian Youth Federation.
Despite his busy schedule, Varant Melkonian has dedicated his time to become part of and support organizations, which benefit humanity and Armenians specifically.
• He has been a staunch supporter of the Armenian National Committee of America, the Armenian Cultural Foundation, the Armenian Relief Society, as well as, organizations like Homenetmen and the AGBU, the Armenian Prelacy and Diocese churches, schools and centers and various projects such as Life100, SARF and countless others.
• He was a founding member and is currently an active member of the leadership council of USC Institute of Armenian studies.
• He is a board member and supporter of the Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry.
• He is a member and supporter of the Armenian Educational Foundation.
Melkonian has also brought his active participation to various non-Armenian community and business groups. In the San Gabriel Valley alone, he has been involved with the following:
• Kiwanis International, of which he has been a member from 1980-1990. This organization serves homeless persons, low-income individuals and families, and victims of natural disasters.
• Business and Professional Association
• Chamber of Commerce
As a result of his undertakings benefiting the Armenian people and churches, Melkonian has received commendation by His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia and was awarded the “Asbedi Gark” medal. He has also received numerous recognitions by the Armenian American Chamber of Commerce, Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry, Armenian National Committee of America Western Region, Armenian Cultural Foundation, Homenetmen Los Angeles Chapter, United Armenian Schools, Homenetmen Regional Executive, Armenian Youth Federation, various state assembly members, government officials, and other organizations.
Melkonian considers it imperative for himself to lend his support to the Armenian people and believes that it should be the purpose of every Armenian to help improve the welfare of Armenians both in the homeland and throughout the Diaspora.
“I feel a close connection to Armenians by being a part of Homenetmen, especially in the United States. Homenetmen has taught me the importance of discipline, respect, volunteerism, collective work and ultimately, the will to overcome life’s challenges. Moreover, it has taught me more about our traditions, language, and the importance of helping and establishing an unbreakable tie with our homeland,” commented Melkonian. He also stressed the important role that Homenetmen plays socially for youth.
Melkonian urges all youth to join organizations, especially Homenetmen where they can learn not only about athletics and order, but also much about life.
“Homenetmen is such a worthy organization, which plays an important role in the Armenian reality. Its members learn more about being Armenian and gain valuable experiences, which help them succeed in life,” concluded Melkonian.
The Homenetmen Regional Executive commends Mr. & Mrs. Varant and Hoori Melkonian for their patriotism and dedicated spirit. They serve as an exemplary couple to others, who have the capability of supporting the younger generation that has been entrusted to Homenetmen.